Chickens

Each month Dunreath Farm will offer a new group of heritage pullets that are at least 17 weeks old. This insures that they are mature enough to integrate into our customers’ flocks of adult birds. We do not sell chicks and we do not ship any birds.

See Home page for a list of 17 week old heritage breed pullets that we will offer for sale in 2017.

We raise our heritage breed pullets from newly hatched chicks that come from a NPIP certified hatchery. They are feed our Amish made Non-GMO feed and put out on pasture as soon as they are large enough to stay behind electrified poultry fencing. Lots of fresh air and sunshine combined with plenty of pasture is the perfect recipe for raising big, healthy pullets. They learn to cohabitate with other poultry such as the geese that guard them from predators, guineas and turkeys.

Are our heritage pullets vaccinated? Most hatcheries only offer two vaccines for chicks – Marek’s and Coccidiosis. Starting in January all our chicks will be vaccinated with the Marek’s disease vaccine. The Coccidiosis vaccine is actually a controlled infection with numerous strains of coccidi. We prefer to manage Coccidiosis in a different way.  All chickens have cocci in their guts throughout their lives. The level they carry can be greatly reduced by keeping feeders and waterers routinely sanitized and bedding dry and clean.

Do we worm? We control worms by keeping our birds on pasture and rotating their location by using net fencing. We do not use any chemical wormers.

What is our minimum for purchase? Chickens build family units with the other birds they grow up with. They form a bond that continues even if they are moved to new home or another coop. If two birds that have grown up together are added to a new flock they will stay together like sisters and be much happier. They will live peacefully with the flock but always prefer to interact with each other. If one chicken is added to a new flock she will always be an outsider. Because of this we recommend adding two birds from the same family unit if possible. However if you only need one pullet you can purchase just one.

Introducing new birds to an existing flock. The best way to introduce new birds it to add them to the coop after dark. Tuck them in to the area where everyone sleeps. They do not need to be put up on the roosting bar. 70% of the time they wake up and think they have been living together for a long time. It is important to check in first thing in the morning in case you find your flock is in the 30% that doesn’t automatically integrate. If there is going to be a problem this is usually when it happens. Only separate them if the birds are drawing blood or someone is pinned down in a corner.

New birds in a new coop. When you bring home your first group of chickens you will need to train them. How do they know where they are supposed to sleep? You will need to force them into the sleeping area of your coop at dusk and shut them in. You will only have to do this a couple of nights and after they will go in willingly by themselves. If they do not get up on the roosting bar pick up one of them and hold it so it can wrap its toes around the bar. Do this a few times and they will get the idea.

You can also train them to come when you call. Take some of our Non-GMO scratch and sprinkle it on the ground while saying a command word, such as: “Chick, Chick, Chick” Every time you offer them some scratch you will say the word. In just a few days they will come running to your command word. You can also use meal worms but that is a much more expensive treat.